“RAA-duh-cul” and “DAYN-jer-uzz”!!!

Today on NPR’s Morning Edition, there was some discussion about the recent showdown between Senate Democrats and Republicans over judicial filibusters. An audio excerpt in the program had Sen. Bill Frist declaring to a Federalist Society meeting that the judicial filibuster was “RAA-duh-cul” and “DAYN-jer-uzz.” If I didn’t know better I think I was listening to a Sunday school teacher’s description of the Beatles’ White Album.

Just how “RAA-duh-cul” and “DAYN-jer-uzz” is a judicial filibuster? It wasn’t too out of the mainstream for Republicans who filibustered Abe Fortas during the Johnson administration. As the news program indicated, the Republicans’ charge that judicial filibustering is “without precedent” is dubious at best. Norman Ornstein, a scholar of Congressional History, weighed in with the remark that Republicans are “trying to redraft history” and that the attempts by some to discount the case of Abe Fortas “doesn’t pass any logical review.” That the show featured commentary by Ornstein is noteworthy. Ornstein is not some “librul egghead” who “hates America.” He is a member of the American Enterprise Institute, a neoconservative think tank.

Anyway, I will tell you what is “RAA-duh-cul” and “DAYN-jer-uzz”: politicians of either party eroding the Senate’s long-standing prerogative of protracted, yea unlimited, debate. It is certain that the Founders intended for the Senate to function as a deliberative body. But now, the Republicans want to water down this aspect of the Senate, and push our country even closer to a tyranny of the majority – a mobocracy, if you will. And for what? Instant political gratification. These are conservative values? Maybe Sen. Frist ought to reflect on why, um, they call his plan the “nuclear option.”

“RAA-duh-cul” and “DAYN-jer-uzz”? You might try some of the judicial nominees that Republican party has been trying to foist on the nation. It was reported that one of the nominees declared that slavery was “God’s gift to white people.” If this is true, then we need to rethink which group of theocratic nuts are really the “enemies of our freedoms” (and I don’t mean the ones who shout “Allah Akbar”).

When it’s all said and done, the neocons running our government have shown just how “RAA-duh-cul” and “DAYN-jer-uzz” they are when they stoop to any tactic deemed necessary in the name of a “good cause.” Nuclear options and authoritarian judges are just a few of the tricks this crowd has in mind for us. I don’t know how anyone who calls himself conservative, principled, and moved by a belief in God and His Law can embrace situation ethics where the ends are thought to justify the means. Neocons spin a good yarn about “faith” and “values” but at the end of the day, they appear to live by the other Golden Rule: “He who has the gold makes the rules.”

At any rate, the good doctor from Tennessee will get more than he bargains for if he choses to make a Faustian pact with destiny. Yes, he may get the procedure of a simple majority vote, but it will return to chauffeur our dear doctor off to Tartarus when the Democrats regain power (and I predict they will). Republicans will rue the day when every piece of filth that issues forth from the sewer pipe of liberalism gets passed by a 51-49 margin. I would be tempted to find this prospect amusing. The problem is that we, the unfortunate citizens of this country, will be right there alongside the Republicans, trying to crawl out of the rising pool of ordure.


NPR’s website features two “scholars” who debate the judicial filibuster and the validity of the nuclear option. On the side of the nuclear option is Douglas Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine University. Why am I not surprised by this? A little note about Pepperdine University: Pepperdine was ostensibly a school affiliated with churches of Christ. Now, it is just a hatchery for young Republicans, having accommodated itself to the larger religious culture of Bubblegum Evangelicalism.

Anyway, Kmiec’s commentary is predictably feeble. He, of course, makes much ado about the Senate’s constitutional duty to “advise and consent.” Well, Sherlock, the Senate also has a constitutional duty to consider legislation, but up to this point, no one has bewailed the impact of filibuster on undermining that mandate. And the fact that Kmiec quotes a few Democrats in favor of his case is most telling. Is that supposed to convince someone like me who couldn’t care less about either party? Color me stupid, but when a man quotes politicians of an opposing party to justify his own position, how can he claim that his own case is any better than theirs? Anyway, an antidote to Kmiec’s flummery can be found in an exchange between Orrin Hatch and Norman Ornstein in Roll Call. Sen. Hatch’s case is, of course, as convincing as Kmiec’s.

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